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Newcastle United will kickstart their pre-season campaign with a game against Scottish side Hearts of Midlothian FC on Friday, ahead of their much-awaited return to the Premier League.
It has been a slow summer for the Magpies, who won the EFL Championship last season to assure their return to the English top-tier. However, when a lot was expected from the club in the transfer market, they haven’t been able to deliver. Till date, Christian Atsu and Florian Lejeune have been the only two arrivals at the St. James’ Park and this is something that will have frustrated manager Rafael Benitez.
Ideally, the Spaniard would have wanted all the business to be done before the team starting off its pre-season. However, with that not being the case, here’s how Newcastle might take the field against the Hearts at the Tynecastle this Friday.
The 31-year old made a return from injury late in the last season and was picked ahead of Karl Darlow when available. Could start at the Tynecastle on Friday ahead of the 26-year old.
The former Tottenham man spent the last few weeks of the season on the treatment table. He will be keen on kicking things off with some solid performances ahead of next term.
The 26-year old centre-half was Newcastle’s second signing this summer, arriving from Spanish side Eibar. Benitez could give him a go to get a closer look at his new ward.
Lejeune will be partnered at the back by Ciaran Clark. The experienced centre-back is likely to be one of the first names on the teamsheet for the entire season.
Many fans don’t see Paul Dummett as the quality needed for the Premier League, but with no new arrival in the left-back position, he remains Newcastle’s best bet.
Absolutely crucial to the team’s chances, the former Swansea City and Liverpool man will want to start off the pre-season on a strong note so as to build up good form and fitness before the Premier League begins.
Benitez is in the market for an ideal partner for Shelvey in the midfield, but until someone new arrives, the spot would be nailed down by former Arsenal man Isaac Hayden. Will start on Friday.
Another extremely vital player for the Tynesiders if they are to put up a strong fight in the top division. Ritchie will want to get firing before the season kicks off.
The former Hull City man had a disappointing last season and hardly made the sort of impact expected from a player operating in the hole behind the striker. Yet, Benitez continues to back him and that is unlikely to change against the Hearts.
The Ghanaian international made his transfer to the St. James’ Park a permanent one, after having a strong spell on loan last season. Is likely to be given a run out in Scotland.
With Daryl Murphy returning late to pre-season training and Aleksandar Mitrovic’s future in doubt, Benitez is likely to field his top scorer from last season, Dwight Gayle, at the top of the attack.